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- how do you remove an ata hard disk password?
- David McDowell
February 4, 2006, 9:28 pm
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Being an entrepreneurial ebayer I have bought a laptop hard disk which
is protected with an ATA password with the idea of removing the password so
that I get a larger hard disk at a bargain price, you can set this type of
password in the bios of any laptop. After trying various methods of removing
these types of passwords I'm a bit stumped.
So far I have tried:
- downloading and using atapwd.
- connecting the drives to my pc using a 3.5->2.5 adapter, (as my pc
does not support ata passwords in the bios) booting in unix/windows and
running a format (and forced erase in unix), but the drive does not respond
to any commands without the password.
What I know so far:
The disk lock is a built-in security feature in the disk. It is part of the
ATA specification, and thus not specific to any brand or device.
A disk always has two passwords: A User password and a Master password. Most
disks support a Master Password Revision Code, which can tell you if the
Master password has been changed, or it still the factory default. The
revision code is word 92 in the IDENTIFY response. A value of 0xFFFE means
the Master password is unchanged.
A disk can be locked in two modes: High security mode or Maximum security
mode. Bit 8 in word 128 of the IDENTIFY response tell you which mode your
disk is in: 0 = High, 1 = Maximum.
In High security mode, you can unlock the disk with either the user or
master password, using the "SECURITY UNLOCK DEVICE" ATA command. There is an
attempt limit, normally set to 5, after which you must power cycle or
hard-reset the disk before you can attempt again.
In Maximum security mode, you cannot unlock the disk! The only way to get
the disk back to a usable state is to issue the SECURITY ERASE PREPARE
command, immediately followed by SECURITY ERASE UNIT. The SECURITY ERASE
UNIT command requires the Master password and will completely erase all data
on the disk. The operation is rather slow, expect half an hour or more for
big disks. (Word 89 in the IDENTIFY response indicates how long the
operation will take.)
There are websites out there that offer to retrieve info from these locked
hard disks, but they charge a small fortune, but it proves it is possible.
Does anyone have any suggestions of how to remove these passwords? If it
helps the hard disk is an IBM travelstar.
I've had a search on google and come up with nothing, the only promising
suggestion I came across was a solution using a mac. Which sadly I don't
A very puzzled ebayer....
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